Jul 27, 2010

Childhood Obesity

My friend Lylah Alphonse writes for the Boston Globe. Today she posted an article about childhood obesity as a social issue. She's a great writer, and I look forward to her articles. I appreciate her asking my opinion on various subjects. She writes about topics that are dear to my heart, so it's hard for me NOT to have an opinion. (I think I gave her about 6 pages which had to be edited down considerably...)

Because it's such a great, debatable topic, I'm going to borrow it for my blog post today. Is childhood obesity a parenting issue or a social one? I can see that it's both, but I'm putting more emphasis on social.

If you see an obese child, you rarely blame the child. You blame the parent. Children can't drive themselves to the grocery store, and don't hold jobs with which to pay for unhealthy food. Children don't choose portion sizes. Parents can sign a child up for sports, or not. There's so much more to it than that, and every parent knows it.

Children wield enormous power over parents' buying decisions. Eric Schlosser, in Chew On This, says that children are responsible for more than $500 billion worth of spending. And don't think McDonald's doesn't know it!

How is it I spend less every time I go to the grocery store by myself? I usually don't come home with junk unless someone is with me, nagging or begging for it. It's my job to hang tough. It's my job to say no. It's my job to move ever onward in the face of fatigue, from working multiple jobs to make ends meet, to be just a little bit stronger against begging children who want to eat at McDonald's when I've had the kind of day where I don't feel like cooking anyway, healthy or otherwise... hang tough, hang tough. And do it again tomorrow.

In Lylah's article I talked about taxes and regulations raising the cost of food sky high. This is definitely a social issue. What about Corporate greed? Greed is another social issue. Corporate greed demands expediency and uniformity in fast-food offerings. If the nutrition is stripped out along the way, so be it. Corporate greed demands hormone-induced beef and dairy cows to put out greater quantities of meat and milk. If the hormones cause early maturity and other endocrine issues in children, so be it.

There's precious little I can do to influence the cost of the food I eat. I can't control the hearts of men who demand more productivity and higher profits at the expense of human life and health. I can only do the best I can with what I've got. And hang tough. And do it again tomorrow.

About what wise decisions are you hanging tough today?


  1. At my daughter's 5 year well visit yesterday, her pediatrician told me that she was at the upper end of acceptable weight gain since her last visit. He told me that I'm going to have to be more vigilant about what she eats. It's really hard for me because she is a good eater and after dealing with excruciatingly picky older brother, it does my heart good to see her eat. And mostly she eats healthy foods. But sometimes she eats out of boredom and sometimes I let her because I don't want to deal with the whining that follows when I say no.

  2. I know how tough that is. Bless you for doing the right thing.